May 172010

Clearsignals, Stars Lost Your Name

Albums, Reviews Comments Off on Clearsignals, Stars Lost Your Name

Artist: Clearsignals
Album: Stars Lost Your Name
Label: N/A
Release Date: Wednesday, 2010.3.24
Score: 9/10

So you really need to go check out this album. It’s called Stars Lost Your Name and the artist, John C. Worsley, bills himself for this album as Clearsignals. The album is full of spacey electronica that drifts seamlessly between the atmospheric and the tribal, without ever losing any interest or energy.

The album as a whole is remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is its pacing and arrangement, which take the listener from warped atmospherics (“cygnus ob2-12”), through rambling electronica (“bellatrix”) and a single melancholy vocal track (“beta lyrae”) and back again. The final track, “Eta Centauri” feels like the soundtrack to an infinitely long walk through a desert wasteland on an aggressively alien planet. And I mean that in the best way possible.

It’s a beautiful, haunting, cohesive work. It feels like music meant to accompany something, though I don’t really know what that something might be. I can say that it serves admirably as music to write to, as long as what you’re writing is strange and introspective. It also works great for coding to as long as the code you’re writing is arcane enough that you won’t find it in any patterns book.

However you feel about electronic music, the album is worth a listen. If you’re already a fan of electronic music and need music to chill to, or just something to soundtrack the work at hand, then this will definitely fit the bill. It’s at turns wistful, melancholy, plodding, and spacey, and the overall album flows naturally while still being rich and well-crafted enough that it never gets boring.

In short, it’s definitely worth a listen.

May 102010

Piracy Infographic

Industry Comments Off on Piracy Infographic

Well, I’m back from a couple of weeks of trekking around the country and getting slammed at work. I’ve still got some reviews lined up, but in the meantime, here’s a neat graphic about the state of the music industry. It’s pretty sizable, but a very interesting read.

I’m honestly surprised that the Big Four still commanded so much market share in 2005. It’ll be interesting to see what it’s done since then. Other than that, there’s nothing really surprising. The market for albums is in sharp decline. I doubt this has much to do with piracy (despite industry protestations) and has everything to do with the fact that a lot of music is now being sold in single-song downloads or being given away for free by artists. Add in the tanking economy and albums really have the cards stacked against them.

The US, Japan, and the UK continue to be the three largest sales markets, much as it has been since time immemorial. Digital music is now a $4.2 billion industry, despite the Industry’s best efforts to smother it (and any resulting profits) in the crib. The growth in digital music for the past 6 years averages out to just shy of 150% per year, which is damned impressive.

So really, there aren’t that many surprises to be had in the industry. Catchy pop tunes still dominate sales, the Big Four still dominate the market (though that’s changing), and regressive and unoriginal thinking still dominate the captains of the Industry. Predictions: the Big Four continue to lose market share as more artists realize they don’t need them. Indie labels continue to innovate and bring the most interesting artists to market. More and more artists go completely label-free. Above all else, the digital music revolution continues with more music being sold and distributed over the Internet.

We’re on our way towards a much more decentralized industry that’s powered by the Internet, true-fans, long tails, and all the other weird emergent effects of a world of ubiquitous connectivity. This chart shows only the first few years of that transition. And I, for one, am excited to see what this movement has in store for the music world.